There is no getting away from the fact that in the last decade alone, digital developments have not only disrupted but completely transformed the way we shop. Thanks to mobile technology, consumers can now shop anytime, anywhere and have their product delivered to the destination of their choice. They can also compare products easier and more quickly than ever before, leading to price wars between retailers who are going to greater lengths to secure those sales.
While these evolutions have empowered the consumer, they have also created a multitude of unique opportunities for retailers to showcase their products, connect with their customers and provide outstanding customer service that seeks to drive brand loyalty.
Enter omnichannel retailing – a multi-channel sales strategy that provides the customer with a consistent sales experience whether they prefer to shop in-store, on their laptop or on their mobile device. Omnichannel strategies forge a connection between online and offline channels, and brands need to align their design, procedures, objectives and goals across all channels in order to create the seamless experience consumers have come to expect.
Research by Statista shows that in 2015, 205 million U.S. citizens were online shoppers and had either browsed products, compared prices or bought merchandise online at least once. With statistics like these it is easy to see why many businesses are investing the majority of their marketing and development budget in their online sales channels. Although many brands have seen this pay dividends, many others have fallen into the trap of thinking that their focus needs to be on either physical stores or their digital presence.
70%** of consumers use a physical store either before or after their purchase, making the value of the store far greater than just the amount of sales processed within the walls.
Studies have shown that shoppers who purchase across multiple channels of a brand have a much higher lifetime value than those who only use one channel. Ultimately, the store is still very much an integral part of the omnichannel experience, providing value throughout the shopping journey regardless of where the final purchase is processed.
The reasons for offline/online purchases
In order to be able to effectively merge your offline and online channels it is fundamental to understand why your customers shop the way that they do. Big data isn’t new, but it is still the most powerful tool at retailer’s disposal when it comes to getting to know their target demographic.
PwC’s Annual Global Total Retail Consumer Survey of 2015** throws up some very useful statistics when it comes to the reasons behind why consumers choose to shop instore or online. When examining why customers preferred to shop online, just two of the reasons given – “I don’t need to go to a physical store” and “I can shop 24/7” were exclusive to online shopping. The remainder of the reasons given, which included price, ability to compare and product information, are all elements achievable within the store itself. On the flip side, the top three reasons given by customers who preferred to shop instore are currently not able to be replicated by any form of digital technology. These reasons were crucial elements of the shopping journey:
- I am able to see/touch/try merchandise
- I am able to get the product immediately
- I am more certain about the fit or suitability of the product
Again, this report highlights the unrivaled importance of physical stores in an omnichannel retailing strategy. So how do businesses go about, combining their offline and online streams to create a unique brand-defining experience that gets customers engaged and talking about them? Click here and see how omnichannel enhances the shopping journey in different stages.
The retail store
During the rapid evolution of technology, the retail store has remained the constant touchpoint of the industry, remaining firm amongst the endless stream of digital possibilities. Alongside the empowerment that customers demand comes a simpler craving – to have a personalized shopping journey that leaves them feeling valued by their chosen brands. While individual sales channels may be able to meet some customer desires, only by combining offline and online strategies will brands be able to create a true omnichannel retail experience that will get their customers talking, sharing and driving their success.
Contact us to discuss your omnichannel strategy and to see how Cegid’s omnichannel solutions can support your business.